DC candidates in-depth: Shaely Wilbur

Talk about your time in the community and community-building. What boards/commissions or committees do you sit, and talk about key projects you have had a hand in?

    Twenty-two years of boards/committees and volunteer hours creates a very long list….so for the sake of space and the readers time I have short listed my answer.

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- Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee        - DC Society for Community Living

- Gaming Association                                        - Community Clean Up

- DC Minor Ball                                                  - Residential Development Committee

- South Peace Junior Soccer                             - Northern BC Winter Games (2005/2008)

- Adopt-a-Block                                                  - PRRD -alternate director

- Emergency Executive Committee/Alternate    - Municipal Insurance Association 

- Parcel Tax Roll Review Panel (Court of Revision)/Alternate

- North Central Local Gov’t Association (Current Past President)

- Love Dawson Creek /Community Champion 

- South Peace Health Services Society (Chair)

Currently I am working with the SP Health Services Society board to secure housing that will provide affordable accommodations for patients coming to Dawson Creek for care and offer accommodation to visiting local health professionals. The board recognizes the needs of our community and region where health care is concerned and moving forward will work with our health professionals, Northern Health, Provincial Ministries, Community and Regional Neighbors to advocate and bring solutions.

In your opinion, what is the role of a city councillor in a 10 to 20,000 person city?  

 Regardless of community size; a Councillor is responsible for the well being of the community. Through policies and bylaws guidance is given to staff at regular council meetings which sets the course of work to be done. A Councillor participates in the review and development of policies, bylaws and budget that will move the City in one direction or another. By direction of the Mayor Councillors’ may be the chair of committees or act as a liaison to community groups/committees. A Councillor should speak for the whole community and be mindful of future and current needs. Be an advocate to higher levels of Government, work collectively on building relationships with regional neighbours. A Councillor must step outside their own opinion; with an open mind and listen to the citizens; make decisions that will be a benefit to sustainability and growth of the community.    

 

Are there any particular issues or local decisions that have you running? Why and what are they?

I would have a continued focus on:

Housing: Affordable/Transitional/Senior/Accessible

Quality of Life: Health Care/Education/Sports & Recreation/ Arts & Culture/Economic Development

Accessibility: Transportation/Support Services/Awareness

Advocating: Regional/Provincial/Federal/Partnerships

Being mindful of our fiscal responsibility, keeping an open door and an open mind to possibilities.

    

What are the three most important issues facing the City?

 

- Infrastructure/Housing

- Fiscal Responsibility

- Crime Prevention

 

Matters such as health and education are more provincial matters and business, but are often lumped into municipal politics. What role can a municipal councilor play in health and education when it comes to these institutions in their city?

 Advocating our needs to higher levels of Government. Supporting our needs with a regional focus; working with our neighbours and Provincial/Federal representatives; to send our message collectively. 

What can you, if elected as a councillor, do to help reduce crime in Dawson Creek? What ideas can you bring to the table?

 Continue to support our RCMP by advocating to higher levels of Government for funding and resources needed in our community.

How do you balance the push for economic growth and environmental sustainability?

 Dawson Creek is recognized as a leader in this aspect of balance. For example, our reclaimed water facility, wind park, solar ready construction, and innovative thinking. Many seem to push the idea that is one or the other. This is not true, and the city has proven they are possible together.

How do you see industry, small business, and nonprofits’ relationship with the city of Dawson Creek?

  Our community’s backbone is agriculture, other resources such as logging, mining, oil & gas are a part of who we are. Small business is a core factor to our charm and uniqueness, while nonprofit groups support our community through services we would otherwise not have. The city strives to build and maintain relationships in all these aspects. While there is always room for improvement, I believe the relationships are well established and growing.

Do you think the downtown core is successful and thriving? Why or why not, and cite examples.

   Our downtown core is home to some of our greatest gems! We are seeing vacant properties filled and many store fronts being updated. A downtown core is only as strong as those who support it.

What do you know about public transportation options in Dawson Creek? Do you have any ideas regarding public transportation?

    Public transit, a service that is highly subsidized by the taxpayer so that it is affordable for the users. It is fundamental to the quality of life and safe accessibility within our community. The city continues to have ongoing conversations with BC Transit, on routes, costs and needs of the ridership. 

It has been said by a handful of current councilors that DC must mind its fiscal gap and are not doing it. One current councilor pegs the city’s own building upkeep bill at approximately $40 million dollars behind. What has (or hasn’t) City Council done, and what more can be done?

   Fiscal Gap is a conversation for the whole community. Moving forward we must strive for balance between needs and wants. This is not a unique situation to Dawson Creek and it is something being felt by communities throughout Canada. The city has been mindful of the situation and has been addressing the concern through; asset management, master transportation plan, flood mitigation work, review of fees/charges, and implemented development cost charges. The city continues to find opportunities for partnerships and grant funding for projects. Moving forward we must keep dialogue open with the community and explore all possibilities.

If elected, what steps will you take to put DC on firmer financial footing?

   This will be a discussion not only at the council table, within the community. The city is always looking for best practices, cost effectiveness, and do we have the capabilities in house. Sometimes focus gets so directed at what is perceived as wrong or not working and we need to put focus on what is working and how that was achieved. The answer or solution maybe in something that has already been implemented. 

It’s easy to suggest projects, or improvements to services, but it all costs money and the City has a limited budget. Do you believe the City has to raise taxes in order to do what you feel needs to be done? Or do you feel there are services that can be cut? Why or why not?

   The reality is that as a council every budget cycle will have the discussion around raising taxes. The will of the taxpayer through discussions on fiscal gap, needs vs. wants, keep/cut services is going to be the deciding factor. The quality of life is not the same for each citizen, so the decisions come down to the ‘betterment for all’ by the elected council. 

Do you want Rotary Lake opened? Why or Why not? If so – please provide a list of steps that should be taken by the city or that the city could recommend to operators. (And in what form, if it should re-open).

   As recognized through public consultation, many in the community have expressed they would like to see Rotary Lake reopened. Should the designation be retained as a lake the taxpayers will need to cover capital costs to fulfill the requirements of such a designation. Should the designation be as a pool, then the taxpayers will face not only capital costs, also ongoing operational costs, which in my opinion would be a call for a referendum.

  The future of Rotary Lake is in the hands of the Minister of Health by way of the Chief Health Officers report. Once a decision at that level is made it will be up to the taxpayers on the next steps. Regardless of the outcome, I do believe that there should be permanent recognition in the area for those lives that have been lost since its opening. 

With the removal of Rotary Lake, some have noted the lack of affordable recreation options for families and youth in Dawson Creek? What do you feel council has done in this regard, and what do you plan to bring to the table if elected? (Aside from your feelings on Rotary Lake).

   During this past summer the City provided free swimming at the Kenn Borek Aquatic Centre and we have many free opportunities in our Community. For example (to name a few) BMX bike course, Skateboard Park, Soccer pitches/Baseball diamonds throughout the city, tennis courts, outdoor gym, walking/bike trails, music festival, Halloween/Easter events, Multicultural event, walking track, youth groups, Nawican Friendship Centre, Yard Games (through Parks &Rec), Labor Day in the Park, Gaming Club, Disk Golf, Horse Shoe Pits, Pioneer Village, Museum, Art Gallery, Car Show. Last ski season Bear Mountain ski hill offered free skiing, and those wishing to join organized sports groups can apply to Jump Start or Kids Sport if fees are unaffordable. Many sports groups have their own grants program. We are rich in opportunities; however, I am always open to suggestions.

Are you in support of a runway extension at the Dawson Creek Regional Airport? Why or why not?

   I am in support of a runway extension based on the direction set by the current council, that grant funding is sought and successfully achieved for the project to proceed.

What are your feelings on how City Council has handled the incoming legalization of recreational marijuana?

  As a current Councillor I am confident that council has handled the incoming legalization proactively. We have recognized the input from the citizens and worked towards having bylaws that are up to date and continue to prepare for a future with the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Should councillors travel to and attend conferences and events inside and outside Dawson Creek that the Mayor may also already be attending, expensed to the City? If so, why and what tangible benefits must come out of these? If not, why not?

   It is costlier to have a council that does not explore best practices and to stay stagnant in their knowledge. In most cases conferences/ forums will have concurrent sessions; therefore, by attending council can attend a variety of workshops/sessions at the same time. In other cases, Councillors’ are chosen to attend or it may just be the Mayor. If we are to maintain stability and growth, we should not be reinventing the wheel and should grasp opportunities to learn best practices and what has not worked for others. When a door is opened to sit with higher levels of government or attend a conference that will benefit our community and region, we should not let it pass by.  

You get one million dollars for a single DC or related area project. No strings attached — your choice. Where does that money go?

  If I had the opportunity to access such funds, I would put it towards two aspects in the community. One I would dedicate half to the work of the South Peace Health Services Society who has a focus on health care with in the community and region. The second half I would dedicate to South Peace Community Resource Society who provides our community and region with many services we would otherwise not have. Such things as victim services, counselling and shelters to name a few. 

Don’t forget the DC Mirror council candidate mega-debate at Encana Events Centre Thursday Oct. 11.

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